Sandra Martin cares about details. A smudge on the window, the arrangement of stools, the way a cup of coffee tastes. For a year before she opened her coffee shop Elvera’s Cafe in downtown Brockton, Martin meticulously took note of the details.
Note : This was the first article written about Elvera's Cafe by The Enterprise, February 2015.
Twice a week she sat in her sky blue Volkswagen Beatle convertible outside 132 Main St. For an hour – as long as parking rules allowed – Martin wrote down in a notebook how many people walked and biked along the block at different times of day. She noted their age, their gender, and whether they were carrying a Dunkin' Donuts coffee or one from Supreme Coffee & Donuts.
In other cities, from Boston to Rhode Island, she visited coffee shops she admired – Better Bean Coffee Co. in Bridgewater, Coffee Exchange in Providence, Thinking Cup in Boston.
After a year, she had an Excel spreadsheet full of information. Only then did she decide.
“That helped me do menu items. From that, I knew people really wanted lunch,” Martin said. “It’s what helped me make my decision to start a business here.”
Elvera’s Cafe opened Monday (February 24, 2015) in the heart of downtown Brockton, within walking distance of the two Brockton courthouses, City Hall and the school department offices.
Just a couple blocks in either direction are a planned satellite college campus and the 215 apartments at Enterprise Centre, leasing now or coming soon.
The latest efforts to revitalize downtown were not the driving force behind Martin’s coffee shop, but they are a welcome addition. "I just knew this location was awesome,” she said.
Martin, 35, grew up in Lakeville and has lived in Brockton for the past 15 years. She studied marketing at the UMass-Dartmouth and upon graduating continued an already blossoming restaurant career, eventually becoming a manager at the Stoneforge Grill in Easton.
Two years ago, she decided to open her own business. After her year of research, Martin got started with city permitting and renovating the space, which years ago was home to a luncheonette. “It’s an old building,” Martin said. “I literally redid everything in here.”
Paul Merian remembers running across the street for a bite at the luncheonette, and watching customers wait there while their suits were tailored. He and his brother John Merian co-own Tuxedos By Merian on Main Street.
“This is like home to me,” Paul Merian said, standing in the shop Tuesday. “There’s a definite need.”
Right now Elvera’s focuses on specialty coffee, homemade croissants, bagels and breakfast sandwiches. There is also the Homemade Marinated Kielbasa – “something we’ve made for years in our family,” Martin said.
She is aiming for the business crowd, with hours currently at 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and free wireless Internet. Her vision is to host poetry and other events, start a catering business and expand the kitchen.
In the meantime, Martin is tweaking her coffee, ordering magazines and watching what her customers buy. “It’s trial and error,” she said. “You think it’s going to work one way and it doesn’t, so you fix it the next day.”